Game One Hundred One: Cubs (39-61) vs. Cardinals (58-42)
Game Time – 7:05pm C.T. ESPN/WGN TV, WGN Radio, XM Radio Channel 187
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago
Rich Hill (0-4, 9.31) vs. Jeff Weaver (4-11, 6.32)
Forget about the records….forget about the two entirely different seasons, this is the Cubs and Cardinals. The Cubs have won 6 of 9 this year against the division leading Cardinals and despite being 19 games back in the division….they are 25-24 against the Central Division this season. The Cubs are coming off of a very impressive 3-game series against the Mets, they came very close to a sweep and discovered how to hit long balls again. Aramis Ramirez is red hot right now having hit 7 home runs in the last 7 games but the key match up tonight will be between Rich Hill and Jeff Weaver, both have under performed this season and both are looking to post a victory tonight….a win for Hill would be his first career victory at the Major League level. Rich Hill has become a mystery….how can a pitcher be so dominant at Triple-A and so hittable at the Major League level? Some attribute Hill’s lack of success to being “between his ears” and others place the blame on the shoulders of the Cubs’ coaching staff. Whatever the case, Hill has to start proving himself for the organization. Hill last pitched for the Cubs on May 20th in the “Brawl” game against the White Sox. Hill made a few statements after the game that infuriated both Dusty Baker and Ozzie Guillen. The Cubs demoted the lefty and he has been just spectacular for the I-Cubs including starting the Triple-A All-Star game; Hill was one of three representatives from the I-Cubs, which by the way are just 2 1/2 games back of the Nashville Sounds (Milwaukee Brewers) for first place at 53-49.
Hill has been two different pitchers….at Iowa he is 7-1 with a 1.80 ERA in 15 games. He has given up just 62 hits and 3 home runs in 100 innings while walking a minuscule 21 batters and striking out a remarkable 135, second in the PCL. At the Major League level, just the opposite….in 4 games this season he is 0-4 with a 9.31 ERA, he has given up 20 runs on 23 hits, walked 15, struck out 11 and served up 5 long balls in just 19 1/3 innings. His last start against the White Sox he threw 87 pitches and only 43 of them were for strikes….you do the math. He has pitched in 14 big league games and has started 8; he is 0-6 with a 9.21 ERA. Hill has not thrown strikes at the Major League level but is coming off of consecutive 14 strikeout performances with Iowa. Angel Guzman, David Aardsma and Michael Wuertz have all benefited from being sent back to Iowa this season, all three have come back to Chicago and have shown improvement, let’s see if Rich Hill has been listening to the same coaches.
Jeff Weaver on the other hand is making his third start with the Cardinals after being designated for assignment earlier in the year by the Angels, the last time he pitched for the Angels was June 27th and with the other L.A. team, Weaver was 3-10 with a 6.29 ERA in 88 2/3 innings; he allowed 114 hits, 62 earned runs, 21 walks and 18 home runs while striking out just 62. The Cardinals picked him up from the Angels, along with cash, for Minor League outfielder Terry Evans on July 5th and activated him on July 7th when they designated Sidney Ponson for assignment (the Cardinals later released Ponson and the Yankees picked him up). Weaver is coming off his first win as a Cardinal against his former team the Dodgers. The Cards won the game 6-1; Weaver went 5 2/3 innings and allowed just the 1 run on 6 hits….his best start of the season. In his other outing he left after just 4 innings against the Braves and gave up 6 runs on 8 hits, including 2 home runs to run his season total to 20. Weaver is 1-1 with a 6.52 ERA with the Cardinals.
The Cubs have been hitting the ball extremely well of late, with a few small exceptions. Todd Walker should be in the starting lineup tonight considering he is 7-18 (.389) lifetime against Weaver with two doubles. Jim Edmonds is also hot right now having hit 5 home runs in his last 9 games. With Hill starting tonight, just two days shy of his first career Major League start (July 25, 2005 against the Giants, he made his Major League debut on June 15, 2005 against the Marlins), and Weaver throwing for the Cardinals, if the wind is blowing out, the game could be decided by the bullpens. Hill has pitched two innings against the Cardinals and he gave up 2 runs on 3 walks without the benefit of a hit but on the other hand, Weaver has a good career mark against the Cubs with a 2-0 record and a 2.65 ERA.
Let’s Talk Cubbies Baseball….